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Putin meets Assad, attacks US and Turkish forces in Syria

MOSCOW – President Vladimir Putin received Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in Moscow on Monday for the first time since 2015 and criticized foreign forces in Syria without a UN mandate, the Kremlin said, berating states United and Turkey.

Asad’s most powerful ally in the decade-long Syrian conflict, Putin last received the Syrian leader in Russia in 2018 at his summer residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

The Russian Air Force was instrumental in reversing the Syrian conflict in Assad’s favor after his deployment in 2015, helping him reclaim most of the territory lost to the insurgents.

However, significant parts of Syria remain out of state control, with Turkish forces deployed across much of the north and northwest – the last major stronghold of anti-Assad rebels – and US forces in it. east and north-east controlled by the Kurds.

Assad, who was also supported by Iran during the conflict, has made few trips abroad since the war began in 2011.

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Putin told Assad that foreign forces in Syria without a UN decision were an obstacle to its consolidation, the Kremlin said. Putin also praised him for winning a fourth term in a presidential election in May.

“The terrorists have suffered very serious damage, and the Syrian government, led by you, controls 90 percent of the territories,” Putin said, according to a statement from the Kremlin.

The Kremlin said Assad thanked the Russian leader for humanitarian aid to Syria and for his efforts to stop the “spread of terrorism.”

He praised what he called the success of the Russian and Syrian armies in “liberating the occupied territories” from Syria.

Assad also called the “anti-human” and “illegitimate” sanctions imposed by some countries on Syria.

The United States stepped up sanctions against Syria last year, saying they were aimed at forcing Assad to end the war and agree to a political solution.

Syrian state news agency SANA said the two leaders discussed cooperation between the Syrian and Russian armies in “the fight against terrorism and the completion of the liberation of the land which is still under control. terrorist organizations “.